Workers' Stories

A Nanny Speaks Up

This is real work. Domestic workers make every work possible. If we don’t go to work employers can’t go to their jobs. Don’t we deserve respect? Don’t we deserve to not feel like slaves?
— Jennifer Bernard

Professional women need somebody to look after the house...but people don’t like to think about it. I think women find it more uncomfortable to think about than men because so many of these people are women.
— Alison Wolf

Alison Wolf's book has a provocative sub-title: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World. For a long time I've been wanting to do a show on race and class, and to focus on the women who make the lives of modern professionals run smoothly. First I talk to Alison, a professor at King's College London and a labor market expert. Then we spend the rest of the show with Jennifer Bernard, a Trinidad-born, New York-based nanny. We hear about the unequal work environment that is the home, how she began to gain confidence on the job, and what makes her feel successful.

Brought to the US to teach; Working as a Domestic to pay off debts: Why California Needs to Pass AB 241

The International Domestic Workers' Network (IDWN) was formed in 2006 to work for basic rights and protections for those who clean homes, care for the sick and look after the elderly and the young in homes around the globe. In 2011, this international coalition of domestic workers' groups helped pass the first-ever International Labor Organization Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (C. 189) which has since been ratified by 11 countries. In recognition of this achievement the AFL-CIO presented its 2013 George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to the IDWN at the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention. It was the first time a delegation of domestic workers had ever been invited to participate in the annual convention.

Domestic worker Lourdes Balagot-Pablo and Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in the US, spoke with GRITtv soon after the award ceremony in Los Angeles.

Cristina’s Story

Cristina, a hardworking, 47-year-old from San Salvador, has lived in the U.S since 1997. She is married and lives with her husband and nephew in Hayward, California, and has been involved in housecleaning, elder care, and childcare, for the past 14 years.

Daniela’s Story

Daniela worked 17 hours a day for 3 dollars an hour. She had no breaks, no overtime, and no sick days. She supports the campaign because she wants to ensure that other workers are not subjected to the same conditions that she was.

Ester’s Story

Ester has enjoyed her time as a domestic worker, but has endured several hardships with her employers. She supports the campaign because she wants her work to be recognized and respected.

Lourdes’ Story

Lourdes, a 41-year-old single mother, has worked as a domestic worker for seven years.  She is the sole financial support for her children, who she had to leave in Honduras so that she could immigrate to work in the U.S.

Luz’s Story

Luz, 40, is a domestic care worker from Mexico City living in San Francisco. Luz has been physically and emotionally harassed in previous jobs, and has endured pay cuts and threats of arrest and lawsuits by former employers.

Marta’s Story

Marta Luisa has been a domestic worker for the past 37 years. She has endured many hardships with several employers, but is hopeful that the DWBR will allow for increased recognition of domestic workers’ rights.

Patricia’s Story

Patricia, a mother of four, has been a domestic worker since 2001. She has experienced extreme injustices in her work, and fully supports the campaign because it will allow for increased standards and broader awareness of her rights.